Environmental Management

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 585–600 | Cite as

Paying for Forest Ecosystem Services: Voluntary Versus Mandatory Payments

  • Gabrielle E. Roesch-McNallyEmail author
  • Sergey S. Rabotyagov


The emergence of new markets for forest ecosystem services can be a compelling opportunity for market diversification for private forest landowners, while increasing the provision of public goods from private lands. However, there is limited information available on the willingness-to-pay (WTP) for specific forest ecosystem services, particularly across different ecosystem market mechanisms. We utilize survey data from Oregon and Washington households to compare marginal WTP for forest ecosystem services and the total WTP for cost-effective bundles of forest ecosystem services obtained from a typical Pacific Northwest forest across two value elicitation formats representing two different ecosystem market mechanisms: an incentive-compatible choice experiment involving mandatory tax payments and a hypothetical private provision scenario modeled as eliciting contributions to the preferred forest management alternative via a provision point mechanism with a refund. A representative household’s total WTP for the average forest management program was estimated at $217.59 per household/year under a mandatory tax mechanism and $160.44 per household/per year under a voluntary, crowdfunding-style, contribution mechanism; however, these estimates are not statistically different. Marginal WTP estimates were assessed for particular forest ecosystem service attributes including water quality, carbon storage, mature forest habitat, and public recreational access. This study finds that survey respondents place significant economic value on forest ecosystem services in both elicitation formats and that the distributions of the marginal WTP are not statistically significantly different.


Forest ecosystem service Provision point mechanism Preference elicitation Stated choice Payment mechanism Crowdfunding 



We thank the U.S. National Institute of Food and Agriculture for providing the financial support for this research through Grant WNZ-1398. We further thank Prof. Sandor Toth and Prof. Gregory Ettl for their comments on the early versions of this work. All remaining errors, if any, are our own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabrielle E. Roesch-McNally
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sergey S. Rabotyagov
    • 2
  1. 1.Sociology and Sustainable AgricultureIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  2. 2.School of Environmental and Forest SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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